Ayurvedic insight on Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS broadly indicates that the digestive system has gone berserk. Ayurveda gives a better understanding of Irritable Bowel Syndrome by addressing the cause, and reveals measures to heal.
Mainstream medicine agrees that IBS means that the Gastro-intestinal tract is excessively active. Evidently, many different reasons could result in the same problem - IBS.
Underlying factors which cause and aggravate IBS can usually be traced back to lifestyle imbalances such as in:
● Poor nutrition
● Weak digestion
● Nervous stress
● Seasonal changes
● Disturbance in body's natural bio rhythms because of disturbed daily routine
● Physical stress, lack of sufficient sleep, etc.
● Deva-prakruti: Your body-type in terms of Vata, Pitta, Kapha dosha
IBS, the GI tract's urgency to clean itself is an alarm signal. When the body is not working optimally, it cannot eliminate its waste optimally. This results in build up of toxins which further irritates the GI tract. IBS steps in to speed up elimination, but overstays its welcome if the imbalance is deep rooted. Lifestyle cures, often heal IBS naturally.
Favour freshly cooked food. It is easier to digest
Ayurvedic aetiology says that the mind, body and spirit are equal parties in the making of health or illness. Negative or stressful thoughts create undue stress. They sap a lot of energy, which leaves little energy for proper functioning of the digestive system.
Improper digestion allows undigested wastes to settle down in the body and cause diseases. The body's recognition of the urgent need to dislodge these wastes, results in Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Chronic IBS sets the ambience for other illnesses to set in. But the good news is that nature's wisdom can help rectify IBS.
Ayurveda's prescription to facilitate proper digestion
To correct IBS, it is the GI-tract that needs attention. Ayurvedic practitioner Dr Robert E. Svabode shares inhis book: 'Prakriti, Your Ayurvedic Constitution', the basic rules of Ayurveda for treating improper digestion:
● Remove the cause
● Purify, to eliminate excess dosha
● Balance the dosha and rekindle digestive fire
● Rejuvenate, to rebuild the organism
Ayurvedic doshas: Vata, Pitta, Kapha
In Ayurvedic lexicon, 'doshas' refer to the natural forces which coordinate the body's functions.
Vata dosha affects all functions related to air and space elements. Eg. Nervous system, Respiratory system, the Skeletal system and Elimination.
Pitta dosha affects all functions related to fire and water elements. Eg. Digestion and Circulatory systems.
Kapha dosha affects all functions related to earth and water elements. Kapha dosha primarily helps create the body by creating its cells.
These forces work in close tandem to create and sustain health. But, an unhealthy lifestyle is a sure way to agitate one or all of these forces, resulting in disease.
Dr Sharath Kumar reveals the classical analagy of a lamp: Just as for a lamp to emit light, air, the flame, oil, wick and a container is necessary, for good health the air of Vata, the flame of Pitta, and the wick, oil and container of Kapha is necessary in just the right amounts.
IBS in Ayurveda: Gruhani (Sanskrit for IBS)
Dr Kumar gives details of IBS, or Gruhani as it is known in ancient Sanskrit texts of Ayurveda. There are five variations to IBS, according to him:
The line of action to heal IBS is broadly based on stoking the digestive power by balancing Samana Vata and improving Koshtagni, the body's metabolism. The prescription is:
● Deepan: increasing digestive power
● Shodhan: purifying the body of physical and mental ama (toxins or wastes)
● Virechan: eliminating wastes
● Langan: fasting to allow digestive fire to work on any remaining toxins
● Paachan karma: rejuvenating the GI tract
Ayurveda's basic approach to healing is that the body heals itself, and can benefit immensely from a conducive environment and intuitive support system.
The body's self healing process gets a booster through Ayurveda's intuitive care. Ideally an Ayurvedic practitioner would be a great help to a patient of IBS to understand and recover from the ailment. Yet, self-motivated people may opt to simply identify the problem areas in their lifestyle and correct those. Finding the cause, purifying the system, and strengthening digestion are the key to fighting IBS.
To begin with, remedies as simple as warm, wholeseome home-cooked meals with family, simple yoga asanas, lots of water intake, regular sleep and waking hours, meditation and an attitude of thankfulness for available resources, are great to assist the body heal itself.
The general rules for eating healthy are the cornerstone for returning health to the body
● No iced drinks along with meals. This weakens the digestive fire.
● Have plenty of water after an hour of taking your meal. This helps in digestion.
● Buttermilk (yoghurt and water blended in a mixture in the ratio of 1:3) is good to have with meals and as an in between too. Spice it up with a pinch of turmeric powder, rock salt, dry ginger, pepper or cumin. Eat with attention to the food. This aids in digestion.
● Avoid off-the-shelf, prepackaged food. Food with chemical additives, flavourings and preservatives tax the GI tract.
● Favour freshly cooked food. It is easier to digest.
● Favour well cooked vegetables and cereals over animal meat. This facilitates easy elimination of wastes.
All Yoga asanas that strengthen the abdomen, strengthen the digestive system. Pashchim Uttana Asana, Shalabhasana and Maha Mudra Yogasanas of choice, but begin simple...
Get professional help
Dr Kumar mentions that Ayurvedic medicines such as Dashmool ghrutam, Sukumaram ghrutam, Chitrakadi ghrutam are prescribed in regulated doses, as are Panchkarma therapies with special herbs. But treatment of IBS varies from person to person. Self medication is not recommended. Corrective lifestyle measures can help the body heal itself.